Posted by: Will Sendel
Tue 11th April 2023
A frustrating afternoon under stormy conditions saw Alfreton Town finish the bank holiday weekend empty-handed, after Josh Coulson’s brace was enough to defeat the home side and put the visitors on top of National League North.
Alfreton’s hard fought loss at the Impact Arena on Monday (April 10) saw them drop to 8th place, with Scarborough and Gloucester going above the Reds following their respective victories.
Billy Heath was forced into one change following the 2-1 away win at Peterborough Sports on Friday (April 7), with Dwayne Wiley replacing Danny Preston whose fracture is likely to see him side-lined for a substantial period.
Ofton started the game well, creating a number of excellent opportunities to break the deadlock. Two minutes in, Dayle Southwell forced a great stop from Tommy Dixon-Hodge, the Linnets keeper diving low to parry the ball out for a corner.
The Reds continued their attacks, with Yusifu Ceesay and Matt Rhead both squandering chances to put the home side ahead early in the second half.
Ceesay should have converted on 15 minutes, when Rhead nodded the ball to the winger’s feet just yards in front of goal. However, Ceesay’s delayed shot brought another great save from the King’s Lynn keeper, who stood tall to deny the Spaniard a goal.
Despite repeated Alfreton attacks, the visitors took the lead against the run of play. On 25 minutes, Linnets’ captain Michael Clunan’s sublime corner was met by experienced central defender Coulson, who rose above everyone to power the ball into the right side of the net.
Billy Heath’s men continued to battle, creating several opportunities to grab an equaliser. Rhead had the best chance, but his header from a Southwell cross was placed straight at the keeper who gratefully held onto the ball.
The afternoon worsened for Alfreton when Connor Teale sustained a knee injury five minutes from half time. A fantastic sliding tackle left the defender in great pain and requiring lengthy treatment, and despite bravely trying to continue, he was forced off the pitch to be replaced by Conor Branson.
King’s Lynn had a chance to further extend their lead in the seconds before half time, the corner sent in by the visitors requiring some tidy defending from the Reds’ back line to clear the ball from danger
The second half saw a shift in the game, with Alfreton losing the dominance they had displayed in the first 45 minutes, although neither side created anything of note in the opening minutes.
The weather was an increasingly contributing factor in the lack of chances, with surface water from a couple of short-lived but torrential downpours slowing the run of the ball along the ground.
The first real chance for either side came on 70 minutes, when Aaron Jones’ low cross for the visitors failed to be met by any of the King’s Lynn attack, and the chance to further increase the Alfreton deficit was wasted.
The Linnets extended their lead just minutes later, however, when the same combination of a Clunan cross and a towering Coulson header giving George Willis no chance. The Reds’ defence will be disappointed in allowing the experienced centre half a free run into the box, and an unchallenged header thereafter.
Coulson’s second sent the vociferous away end into elation, the central defender immersing himself into their arms to celebrate with them.
To their credit Alfreton remained competitive and kept pushing, and a free kick just outside the opposition box in the 89th minute offered the chance of a late consolation goal. Sadly, substitute Jordan Thewlis’ poor delivery was comfortably dealt with by the King’s Lynn defence before the referee blew for full time.
At full time Billy Heath praised his team for their performance against a tough opposition.
“How we haven’t scored a goal today I don’t know. We’ve created twice as many chances as King’s Lynn… The players could not have given any more.”
Despite the home defeat, Alfreton’s committed teamwork, battling and never-say-die attitude was heartening. On another day, a breakthrough against the experienced King’s Lynn defence might have elicited a different result, and the Reds would do well to embrace the positives when reflecting on the loss.
Alfreton are back on the road on Saturday (April 17) when they face promotion rivals Gloucester in a real six-pointer. A win on the host’s artificial surface would see Ofton leapfrog their opposition back into the play-off places, but a loss could severely dent their chances of a top 7 finish.
Alfreton Town 0 – 2 King’s Lynn Town
(Josh Coulson 25, 77)
Official Matchday Attendance – 716
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